I’m back in the office after attending the 20th annual ATMIA US conference at Disney World in Orlando Florida. I hope it is a long time before I see another pair of Mickey Mouse ears or hear “It’s a Small World After All”, but more about that later.
The event theme for this year was “ATMs and Apps: The New World of Customer Experience.” And while we did talk quite a bit about the ATMIA Next Gen ATM initiative in several sessions, much of the discussion at the conference was focused more about the practical issues associated with running an ATM business today. It seems that the “future” may a bit farther off than some pundits and prognosticators may have thought when they started releasing their industry trends and predictions for 2019.
Some of the new industry and technology “trends” that I did not hear about during the event:
- Empowered Edge
- Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality
- Machine Learning
- Conversational Interface or Immersive Experience
- Smart Spaces
- Quantum computing
What I did hear was a lot of discussion about how the lion’s share of discretionary spending at most organizations is being allocated to mobile initiatives, making it extremely difficult to get additional funding for the ATM channel. This means that some of the hot new areas are still very much off into the future, while folks who manage the ATM business look for ways to do more with less. So it should not be surprising that there was also a lot of talk about issues like these:
- Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)
- Open APIs
- Physical and Logical Security
Given that security and compliance are really table stakes for anyone in the business today and require the allocation of resources, it makes sense that many organizations want and need to improve their operational capabilities. From a Paragon perspective, I would say that automation and integration are the two keys topics covered in virtually every conversation that we are having with both current and prospective clients. The good news is that there are proven solutions available for all of the key items listed above, including our own VirtualATM and Web FASTest offerings.
Of course, there were still many other important topics discussed during the event:
- Windows 10 Migration
- Cardless and Contactless Transactions at the ATM
- EMV Certification
- Cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin ATMs
- The Future of Cash
- Deposit Processing
The one theme that ran through the entire event was the continued amount of change taking place within the industry.
To emphasize that point, we heard in one session that there are an estimated 300 alternative payment types available today and that number is expected to grow by 10x over the next 5 years!
There is simply no way an organization can keep up with the pace of change without automation, integration and optimization. This includes not only the testing infrastructure but the entire ATM operation.
Connect with Paragon to see how we can help your company test at the speed of change.
Additional Editorial Commentary
Disney World may be “The Most Magical Place on Earth” but the payment processing infrastructure at our resort was anything but enchanting.
The check-in process took about 20 minutes, a far cry from the typical 2-3 minute process that we get at most business hotels (or even faster if you check in ahead of time with the hotel mobile app). But the kicker for me was that at the end of the process, when I finally handed over my credit card, the Disney “Cast Member” ran the card through as a mag stripe transaction. We are now coming up on EMV + five years, so this really struck me as odd. There was not even any attempt to use the chip. I would guess that the average ticket size at this particular resort is well north of US$1,000. And while I will not pretend to understand Disney’s business model, I’ve got to believe that somebody is leaving money on the table someplace. Maybe this is why ticket prices for the theme parks are so high?
But the issues go much deeper than just the numbers. As a part of the check-in process, I got my MagicBand. I had certainly heard about these bands and other than the fact that mine was purple, I was interested to see the tool in action. Boy was I disappointed.
While you can just tap the MagicBand at a Disney Touch Point, you also have to enter a PIN to complete a transaction. Unfortunately, the keys on the PIN Pads were so small I had to use my pinky finger to enter the digits. This process was further complicated by the fact that the numbers on most of the PIN Pads I saw were completely worn off so that I had to stop and think about which numbers go where before I could enter the PIN. To top things off, the LCD display panels on the PIN Pads were so small and faint that they could hardly be read. Overall, not a great user experience.
Just for fun, I used a credit card instead of the MagicBand for one purchase. I was not terribly surprised to see the transactions processed as mag stripe, but I was amazed to see the Cast Member actually print, fold and stack 4 separate pieces of paper. All for a $7.00 item.
Perhaps the Disney brand is so strong that the payment aspect of the customer experience can be ignored, but it certainly seems past time for someone to wave a magic wand over the mess and make it disappear.